Can I ask a favor of you? Can I be so painfully vulnerable for just the next few minutes as you read this? So vulnerable that the thought of posting this for anyone else to read makes my heart skip a few beats and my palms start to sweat?
I’ve been on this college campus for almost a week now. That’s not that much time at all. Already I have witnessed so many couples interacting and it’s really gotten me thinking about myself and where I am in regards to relationships.
I have seen plenty of people whom I find attractive. I have met MANY really nice people who I would love to get to know better, given the opportunity. I have watched both guys and girls flirt and interact in ways that seem so foreign to me – but they haven’t always been foreign. When did these common interactions become so uncomfortable for me? When did I decide to automatically “friend-zone” every member of the male species without a second thought? Why am I so willing to listen to others, love others, and build others up…but yet I can’t seem to allow anyone to do the same for me?
The truth of the matter is that I have all the same longings that everyone else does – I long to be known and to be loved by another person. I long to be pursued and sought after, just as much as anyone else.
There have been countless times in my life that I have been pained by relationships for various different reasons. I have been left with scars on my back from the knives that people have thrown, with good aim I might add – daggers to the soul. These wounds have scarred over and although all scars fade with time, some take longer than others. There is one question that I have never been brave enough to speak out loud, but that I have asked people in my mind time and time again: Do you really love me?
Although this questions seems to merit a simple “yes” or “no” answer – I have come to realize that it hold so much more than just those 5 words would let on.
I believe that the meaning behind those 5 words differs for everyone, but I have spent some serious head-time trying to examine my heart and figure out exactly what they mean to me.
Do you really love me?
To me, means…
Will you embrace what is different about me?
Will you applaud my efforts to become?
Can I just be human – strong and vibrant on some days, but weak and frail on others?
Can I interact with you without pretending?
Can I interact with you without pretending…and have that be okay?
Will you love me even if I disappoint you?
Will you love me through my dark places?
Will you still love me even when I doubt your love?
These are the questions that I’m really asking when I think, “Do you really love me?”
And when I made the connection between what I have already shared and what I’m about to share, it practically knocked the wind out of me and left me paralyzed in my chair…
I am terrified of relationships for many reasons. One reason being the ones I have witnessed growing up. Another one being the ones I have tried to cultivate – to no prevail. And the third reason being: How can I ask the question “do you really love me?” of anyone else, knowing that it carries the meaning of all those additional questions, when I have yet to honestly answer these questions of myself.
Do I really love me?
Will I embrace what is different about me?
Will I applaud my efforts to become?
Can I allow myself to be human – strong and vibrant on some days, but weak and frail on others?
Can I allow myself to interact without pretending?
Can I allow myself to interact without pretending…and have it be okay?
Will I love myself even when I disappoint myself?
Will I love myself through my dark places?
Will I still love me even when it’s hard?
Until I am able to answer all those questions with a resounding “YES!” it’s unfair to ask anyone else to answer that age old question, “Do you really love me?”
Now, to clarify – I’m speaking of romantic relationships here. There are, I believe, relationships in our lives of which I hope we are able to ask these hard questions even while we are in the process of answering them ourselves.
But what I’ve learned is this: I need to know how to love who I am, embrace all that I am, be my own person, and have my own identity firmly rooted in Christ before I can ask hard questions of anyone else. If I can’t answer my own tough questions, how can I ever expect anyone else too? And even more importantly than that…If I can’t feel confident saying “YES!” to myself, how can I survive anyone ever saying “no.”?!